The top ten in the world from Serious About Food, for gourmet travellers and those on the lookout for high standard local cuisine.
Summer is made for practical fast food, to be eaten on the go between one museum and another, standing or on the beach and strictly with your hands. However, when travelling it is always a bit uncertain as to what you will find to eat and navigating your way around is always an undertaking. So that you are not unprepared, Serious About Food has created a little guide for your summer, which will take you straight to the best gourmet street food in circulation on the planet. Enjoy!
Tonkatsu Sando –Maisen, 4 Chome-8-5 Jingumae, Shibuya
Shibuya is the district of Tokyo which is famous for its skyscrapers covered with billboards and pedestrian traffic lights crossed by thousands of people each hour. In the middle of the chaos, find the time to stop at Maisen, a small stand on the street that serves the best Tonkatsu in the city. Choose the sandwich version (Sando, in fact): two fingers thick, juicy and golden, the breaded and fried cutlet finds its perfect fit between two slices of soft white bread. Accompanied with a cabbage salad, to finish off the meal in freshness. Itadakimasu!
Pad Thai – Pad Thai Thip Samai, Maha Chai Road
Humble Pad Thai, a symbol of a Pan-Asian cuisine revisited all over the world in the form of plate of stir fried noodles containing anything. Chosen as the national dish in 1940 by the Thai Prime Minister, Pad Thai has over the years acquired the sad reputation of a commonplace, heavy and greasy dish. However, I will prove that it is not so! For the best Pad Thai of your trip and probably of your life, go to PadThai Thip Samai, which has been serving the most delicious Pad Thai of the entire city for five decades. But why is it the best? Thrown into the wok on coal flame which gives it a smoky note, the Pad Thai made here is perfectly balanced being sweet, salty and sour at the same time, enhancing the central flavours of Thai cuisine. The fish sauce and the prawns add a touch of umami, while tamarind and palm sugar reveal a subtle sourness mixed with sweetness; the shallots, sprouts and chopped peanuts add crunch and texture to the dish. The rest is done by the ingredients and the attention to detail, such as the noodles dried in the sun. Pad Thai yes, but in premium version for the gourmet globetrotter. Be prepared for a long queue of customers, and do not give in: you will be amply rewarded for the wait.
Banh Mi – Loc’s Banh Mi, 115 Tran Cao Van Street
Hoi An, a charming city on the coast divided between white beaches and temples (the only Buddhist temple in the world built on a bridge is located here), hiding among its narrow streets a gem: Nguyễn Thị Lộc, 79 years old and still with energy to spare, prepares and serves over a lifetime the best Banh Mi in all of Vietnam. The Banh Mi is one of the legacies of French domination in the country, a bread that resembles a small baguette stuffed with goose paté (obviously local) or other specialities: home-made sausage, fried egg, home-made pickles, carrots, papaya, herbs. The cook serves it with his special sauce, from a secret recipe, ça va sans dire. To find his little shop, walk north of the Thu Bon River for about 15 minutes. When you read on the blue and white striped tent "Banh Mi Queen", you will know that you are in the right place.
Hot Dog El Completo – Dominò, calle Agustinas 1016
Dominò serves the best completos of Santiago since 1952. “El completo”, as the Chileans like to call it, represents all the variety of this country: it is nothing more than a Hot Dog, reminiscent of the large German community that landed in Chile in the early 1900's. Made with freshly baked bread, it is not as simple as it sounds: along with the classic sausage, it is stuffed with diced tomatoes, sauerkraut and pickled cucumber, green chilli, chopped onions, parsley and a lot (so much) fresh avocado, and depending where you try it, you will find a different special recipe, because each café or kiosk has its own one. Have your fill as well of ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise, all are home-made.
USA ROAD TRIP/LOS ANGELES+ SAN FRANCISCO + NEW YORK
During your American Road Trip, you will encounter so much street food as to have existential crisis. Before the crisis, though, make sure you leave a little space for the food truck that we recommend, because it is really worth it.
New York,Waffles & Dinges – in and around the city, follow its movements on wafelsanddinges.com
In New York, while you walk with your nose in the air admiring the skyscrapers, make sure that, when you lower your eyes, there is a waffle in your hand, and make sure it is from Waffle & Dinges. Awarded in 2010 and 2011 by Zagat as the best Food Truck in New York (if you please), this food truck from Belgian origins will impress you with its high quality products. For the topping, you can choose from cream with strawberries, to Speculoos spread to Dulce de Leche. Ensure you get your dose of sugar that will take you to the next stage.
Los Angeles, Kogi BBQ – in and around the city, follow the movements on kogibbq.com
In Los Angeles, Kogi BBQ: the Korean and Mexican fusion cuisine of chef Roy Choi. Today a LA rebel icon, Roy Choi opened his food truck in 2008 without imagining the success that he would have invested three months from there. The secret? Excellent cuisine, at a few dollars. Do not miss out on the Short Rib Taco, their iconic dish: two crispy tortillas that contain cooked and caramelised Korean BBQ meat, salsa roja, coriander, lime and onion, coleslaw and soy vinaigrette and chilli pepper.
San Francisco, Del Popolo – in and around the city, follow the movements on delpopolosf.com
In San Francisco, look for Del Popolo, one of the most typical food trucks existing in the world: consisting of a traditional Neapolitan pizza oven, installed inside a 6 metre long shipping container, pulled by a Freightliner truck. Already aesthetically perfect. And also in substance: praised by the most influential newspapers, it produces pizzas with only Italian ingredients. From the timeless Margherita pizza, also with Buffalo mozzarella, to the Butterball Potato with leeks, fontina cheese and warm honey, it will stay with you in your memory as an unforgettable souvenir of your holiday.
London, The Cheese Truck, follow the movements on thecheesetruck.co.uk
London: hugely popular destination in August with the kids who go to college, but also a beautiful city rich in culture, to be discovered on a summer's weekend (at least there is a 80% probability of it not raining). Immerse yourself in the British culture at lunchtime with a sensational cheese sandwich: simply, cheese from local cheese makers between two slices of bread, grilled. A typical British street food, obviously done with English cheeses such as Cheddar and Stilton, to name a couple. Because you know, when it comes to British cheeses they know more than the devil. To accompany the cheese, home-made bacon and pear chutney, butter with rosemary, honey and so on. These guys, since 2014, have sold about twenty tons of cheese and grilled over 100,000 sandwiches. I would say in that case "It's worth a visit".
Stockholm, Korvkiosk, teatern Ringen Skanstull
If you have decided to keep cool for the summer and make a trip to Scandinavia, between one fjord and another you cannot miss out on Korvkiosk. Magnus Nilsson, child prodigy of Swedish cuisine and chef of the multi-starred restaurant Faviken, known for his outlandish character, launched in 2015 the hot dog culture in Sweden by taking over an old sausage factory that was closing its doors. Initially Korvkiosk was designed as a small hot dog shop in Åre, a ski resort. But the chef soon restored a 1980's minivan adapting it into a food truck, with a beautiful blue sign (about the size of the van) planted above, to allow him to get around the whole city of Stockholm. Delicious mashed potatoes, artisan pickled cucumbers, shrimp salad from the northern seas: you can fill your hot dog with anything you like, ensuring the eclecticism of Magnus Nilsson.
Malpaga Castle, Castle Street Food 2 to 4 September, Bergamo
Italy is a magical place to visit all year round. As magical as the culinary offerings: how do you choose just one food truck of Italian food, with all the existing varieties? Simply put: you can't. This is why, perhaps, it is better to find an environment that brings them all together. Castle Street Food is a festival that was created to promote tourism in the less known areas and sheds new light on the villages and castles of Italy, on the small, hidden and sometimes forgotten treasures, which become the stunning backdrop to a festival focused on street food, which promotes variety and quality. The range of food trucks changes each year, but it is always rigorously selected among the best in Italy and carefully chosen among the regional specialities of the whole country. Nothing fills the spirit more than a sunset in an ancient village, even better if tasting the best street food of the Bel Paese. The next event is in September. If during that time you are planning a stop in Italy, do not miss this festival.
Lisbon, Pastèis de Belèm, R. Belém 1300-085
In Lisbon, kiosks and churrascherie (Portuguese barbecue restaurants) are not a mirage: each district has different ones and they are all calm places, a tranquillity derived from the sun, chequered tablecloths, a plate of grilled sardines and a beer. The fish is always so fresh that you are spoiled for choice for your lunch. But there is an address to keep in mind for dessert, and it is that of the pasteleria (bakery) in the district of Belèm that produces the incomparable pastèis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts) every day. You can find them in many bakeries in the city but here at the Pastèis de Belèm they were invented and baked for the first time in 1837. The pastèis are puff pastry tarts filled with custard baked in the oven and lastly sprinkled with sugar or cinnamon. Good like a crème brulée, with melt-in-the-mouth texture. You cannot do without them.
We thank Gianluca Capedri for his cooperation
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